Friday, March 22, 2013

If you need a smile...

I have had some colorful characters in my classes over the years. Kids do not have a filter and they say what they think. 

Marco was a new student, a four year old little boy whose dad was transferred from Quatemala to our town. We were reading an Easter book, What Will Baby Bunny Be? We were talking about occupations and community helpers.

Little Marco volunteered, "My daddy is  a doctor; he's the head shrink at the nut house on Arsenal Street. " (The State Mental Hospital in our town)
Can you imagine the other things that boy heard at home?


Little Tommy shared at show and tell, "My mommy's water pipe broke."
"In the kitchen."
"Then what?"
"Water was all over the floor."
"Then what?"
"Baby Gus slid right out of Mommy's water pipe. I said, 'Mommy-Mommy-Mommy' and she said, 'Tommy-Tommy-Tommy, dial 911.' "

Four year old girl: "I can't clean up today."
"I have diarrhea in my hands."
I ran to her expecting the worst.
"I meant diarrhitis like my Maw-Maw gets in her hands." (arthritis)

It is Spring break! I will be taking a break from children and also from blogging next week.

All I am saying is I have painted my toe nails.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

             From my bunny hutch to yours, a very happy spring and blessed Easter to all of you.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Follow those footprints!

The children waited excitedly outside the classroom door for me to arrive on Monday 3/18. (On Friday I used a small sponge and painted a trail of green footprints in the room.) I asked the children if they were ready to see if the leprechaun had been in our room. I told them they could take the little guy home. I asked where they'd keep him and what green foods they'd feed him. They were bubbling with excitement. When I opened the door they squealed at the sight of tiny footprints, pennies and fake gold coins strewn about the room. They tracked the footprints. 
They did the Irish jig (bells attached).
The students assembled the shamrock A-B-Cs on the floor hoping the leprechaun would walk their trail. They chose two strands of colored tinsel and compared sizes long/short. Then they tossed the rainbow into the air. They rolled in it, covered themselves with it, laughed and had a good time. 
They "fed" the leprechaun different lengths of beads (hand/eye coordination).
And Nicole had a fit when she discovered the leprechaun had used the bathroom and left his footprints on the toilet tissue, back of the toilet, and the sink.
It was such an exciting and fun day. The kids looked for clues all day long.
Now, scroll back up and take a look at Nicole's footwear. Her mom called me that night and asked if I had given the kids pennies and gold from the leprechaun. Hmmm, no not really, just a  piece of fake gold on their rainbow/shamrock artwork. Her mom had a fit. "She will apologize for stealing first thing in the morning! When I was getting her ready for bed, her boots were loaded with pennies. I don't even know how she could have walked in them all day."
I laughed so hard and told her it was a mistake, and that what I had said to the class was, "Oh, look, the leprechaun has been here, let's go in and get his gold." I negelected to say, "And collect it in this container." So of course they thought finders keepers.
I can only imagine who else will come to school tomorrow with a handful of pennies to return. It is fun being five years old. This is one memory making holiday for my students. We also made a trap to catch the leprechaun, but of course, he escaped and left lots of treasure for us to examine: golden numbers, gold spoons, gold rocks, gold necklaces and sparkly earrings for the teacher.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

That magnetic look

I have always known that the seat of the soul is in the eyes. I can usually tell a liar by the look in his or her eye and I am good at reading sincere expression. I'm also an expert at spotting crazies; that is why in passing, I may glance and nod at a stranger, but I usually avoid looking anyone in the eyes for longer than five seconds. I learned way back when I was in college that doing so indicates interest in the other person. It doesn't have to be a flirtatious come hither look, but lengthy eye contact is an open invitation to engage.

This weekend I was at a thrift store where I got some good deals. I smiled at the husky, young man behind the counter at the register. He glared at me and said, "I wish I could put my fingers in my ears."

I kicked myself for smiling and thought, "Oh boy! Here we go."

The piped in music was a mix of top forty songs. He said between clenched teeth, "I hate this song."
I fiddled in my purse and refused to look at him. He didn't read my signal. He continued, "I was homeless and sleeping in my car once when this guy came up to the window and woke me up. I almost killed him. Killed him. I hate this song."

I paid for my purchases and scooted out of that store.

Maybe there was something in my eyes that the young girl who sat next to me in the show saw. "I'm going to go get some popcorn. Would you watch my purse?" She scooted out of the aisle and I looked around to see if Betty White and her Off Their Rockers cast were nearby. Nope, just two crazies in my life this weekend. This was before the green beer started flowing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I've made it to the big stage!

I cannot tell you how proud and excited I am to announce my debut...
"Listen to Your Mother" is a live, ninety minute stage performance which has roots in twenty four cities across America. Now it's time for St. Louis to shine!

I have finally made it to the big stage...the Emerson Auditorium stage at St. Luke's Hospital Institute of Health Education in Chesterfield, MO. My debut will be May 11th, two performances, 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Doors open one hour before each performance.

This is a benefit, and the shows are expected to sell out. Ticket information at this link:

Ellie Grossman, Suzanne Tucker, Laura Edwards, Naomi Francis, organizers of the event, "Listen to your Mother, St. Louis" selected my story about motherhood. I will read it aloud, along with eleven other local women who will read theirs. Fifty percent of the proceeds will be donated to "Connections to Success" a not-for-profit foundation that encourages women to escape from poverty, heighten their self esteem and gain successful careers.

Please, will you come out and support this cause? Just don't heckle me.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

So what was that stain?


A few years ago my husband had had recent surgery, and the doctor told him to take it easy for a couple of days. I had a frozen shoulder and was dealing with pain from the physical therapy. I tried making an ice pack out of a Zip Loc bag, but learned the hard way that they are not leak proof.

So the day after hubby's surgery, both of us were writhing in pain at bedtime. Sometime during the night...

I woke up before dawn with the faintest moonlight filtering through the room and fuzziness in my head. My hand was wet, slippery, slimy. I squinted at the bed and realized my hand was covered in blood, clots and all. One of us had hemorrhaged. I ripped back the covers and screamed for Bill to wake up.

He pointed out the obvious, it wasn't him. The bag of frozen blueberries perched on my shoulder had thawed and broken open. We donated the mattress to Salvation army, purple stain and all. Can you imagine what the needy person who bought our mattress thought? 

What would YOU have thought?

Monday, March 11, 2013



Memoir... leave them wanting more-more-more.

Personalize your story so that the reader sees what you saw, hears what you heard and feels what you felt. Remember to use lots of sensory detail. Here's an example of SHOW don’t TELL.

TELLING: Dad and I used to walk a parking lot each Saturday morning in search of coins. The neighboring factory workers partied there after work Friday nights and often lost loose change in the gravel.

SHOWING: The year I was ten, I would quietly slip out of bed and into my clothes and join Dad at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings in early fall. We walked the neighboring factory’s block-long, gravel parking lot in search of coins. Employees partied there on Friday nights after the neighborhood corner bar closed.

 Our exhaled breath made puffy clouds, our feet kicked up gravel dust, and we kept our eyes to the ground searching for silver. Pennies were easy to find, but I could spy a nickel in that gray gravel from far away.  The time I found two half dollars, Dad and I both whooped and hollered as he rubbed them together like a magician. He bought a half pound of sliced bologna with red rind and a fresh loaf of white bread. He gave me a dime. I took my time selecting penny candy. Went home with a bagful to share with my brother.

There was a time in my early writing when I did not feel comfortable revealing personal details about my life, because I feared having my life not my writing judged. When you let go of that fear, your writing will flourish

Friday, March 8, 2013


Today is class picture day. Nicole is posing in front of the mirror admiring her smile, her hair, her outfit. Some days she calls her self Nicole Repunzel (Rapunzel) or Charm Princess Glory. She exudes self confidence. Her self speak is, "I am beautiful, just as I am."

I stood before the mirror also, saying things like, "I hope my gray roots don't shine. Look at my big ears poking out of my hair. I hate my crooked teeth. Oh, look at that crinkle neck flesh. M y wrinkles are moon craters. I am so homely."

Don't get me wrong. I love MYSELF, but the external me, I think needs some repair. Why does a woman focus on her faults instead of embracing herself like a five year old does?

When does this begin? My daughter played with dolls until she was ten or eleven and loved everything about herself...and then one day she woke up filled with self criticism.

Oh well, I must go to work now and smile, a crooked, fake smile :)

Nicole just ran in to tell Grandpa bye and she said, "I can't mess up my hair and act crazy."
He replied, "Oh go have fun. Beauty is inside not outside." What a guy!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

He took her tiny hand in his big paw and I lost my heart

Click on this link to read my latest essay about my husband, the gentle giant who has made a wonderful and positive impact on nine children ages 5-23.

Ashley was our first grandchild, the practice kid, so to speak. She and Paw-Paw had such a bond. He'd tickle her and she'd say STOP and run away. Then he'd call her back, and she'd go right back for more. I'd say, "Why do you keep going back if you want him to stop?"

She'd say, "Because he's the most fun big kid I know."

She called one day when she was about three and asked me to tell him her nose had a headache (cold) and to let him know she couldn't come over to play with him that day, becuase she just knew he'd miss her. Life sure has sped by.

I would SO appreciate it if you could leave a comment on the Sasee site. I would like to surprise
Paw-Paw with the comments. Thank you all so much.

Sasee is a wonderful women's lifestyle magazine out of South Carolina. Would you, your mom, sister or friend enjoy a subscription? 12 issues $24 (checks or money orders to Sasee distribution)
Sasee Distribution
PO Box 1389
Murrells, Inlet SC 29576

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Which direction should you go?

When the phone rings at 3:00 a.m. you know it's not going to be good. We peed, dressed at lightning speed and sped to the emergency room. I was greeted by my son's dad and his wife, and also my son's new bride. A headline blurb was all I needed from any of them. I had to get to my son. I darted down the hall past an open door where a young man my son's age lay on an exam table with a butcher knife plunged into his bare chest, the eight inch handle exposed.

I recoiled, grabbed my own chest and ran to my son who had serious internal injuries from a motorcycle accident he'd had as he was coming home from his night shift. He wiped out thirty feet of highway fencing. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Mom, Rose came to me as I lay on the side of the road before the ambulance arrived. She said I was going to be okay."

My late friend, Rose, who had recently passed away, had been our next door neighbor. She'd been like another mother to my son. The doctor said his very expensive helmet prevented him from having brain injury. My son made a full recovery, but I wonder about that boy with the butcher knife. I am convinced that my late friend cradled my son's head as he lay on the pavement.

What I just wrote is true. It is intense reading. I took the reader right along with me on that journey. If I were writing a book, this would be okay, but when you write a personal essay you have to tighten your focus. I wrote specifically about my son's accident and his "experience" for a religious anthology and the story was selected and published.

Writers, keep in mind that you have to write for your reader and target your market. There are several stories embedded within my story. I could write about ER cases, motorcycle helmets, heavenly signs or dumb kids who return to motorcycle riding and worry the heck out of their mothers.

One more thing, blog readers, did I provide you with enough information, or did I leave you hanging by asssuming that my one reference (his new bride) would be enough of a hint to allow my followers to know this happened almost fifteen years ago? Consider that some of your readers do not know your circumstances or family, so again, you must write to inform your reader.

I hope you don't think I'm lecturing or preaching to the choir. Thanks for reading. I am waiting for my 200th follower.

Monday, March 4, 2013

He had his mojo going

The old gent at the mall at 6:00 this morning must have gotten a head start on the regulars. People were waving and calling his name. Two women across the mall shouted, "Sorry we missed you. Let me give you a hug." The big strapping 75 year old (at least) backed away and said, "Be careful, my shoulder hurts." The two ladies massaged his shoulders. Later I saw a woman stop him and he said, "My back hurts." As she rubbed his back he moaned with pleasure. I looked over at him, he smiled knowingly. I power walked in the other direction. I just knew he was going to say to the next woman that his hip hurt.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My head is in the clouds

I think I swallowed a cloud, or I am on a cloud, or my head is in the clouds. Today has been my day!

I auditioned for Listen To Your Mother, St. Louis, a nationwide non-profit fundraising organization. They've been in twenty-four cities so far. Our turn this Mother's Day weekend.

I read my story aloud on stage before the judges. Mine was one of thirty (whittled down from sixty contributors) selected. It made the judges smile, laugh and sniffle. I can only hope to proceed to the stage on Mother's Day weekend, but if I don't make final cut (whittling down to twelve now) then at least I made it this far. I feel as if I am floating on air.

Came home to a large manila envelope in the mailbox, thought it was advertisement from Blue Mountain Arts, but it was an announcement/contract stating that my poem has been selected to go to test market to determine its potential as a greeting card. It can take up to twenty-four months but often much less time. I am elated that this poem has made first cut, as it is so near and dear to my heart, written for my mother. I am on cloud nine.

I am humble, and I thank God for my ability to  use words to benefit others.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Walking my cuties off

I like cottage cheese. I have been eating those little Cuties (mini oranges) with the easy-to-peel rind, since Christmas. Maybe that's what it is. Yeah, uh huh, I want to believe that my cellulite, which has crept from my thighs to my upper arms is from eating cuties... well, it is from eating. Anyway, spring break is this month and so I tried on my capri pants in case we go some place warm. It is snowing here again. Another snow, sleet and ice storm expected next week. Ugh.

The seams are screaming on my zippers, so I decided to walk the mall today at 6:30 a.m. while hubby went to the gym. I am a people watcher, a fast walker, and a multi-tasker. Which only means I overtook every old bugger at the mall while checking my cell phone and observing the interaction around me, listening to snippets of conversation from the over-seventy crowd. This from two senior women wearing too short pants walking on the first floor:

"I don't care what anyone says about my body."
"Oh, you DO, TOO. I wouldn't want anyone to say anything bad about my body, no matter how bad it is. Nobody would. So you DO care."

"I do NOT care! People can say whatever they want about my body."

Second lap around I figured they must have been siblings because they were still saying, "I do NOT!"  and "You do TOO!"

On the second level:

Two men trailing behind two waddling women. The tall woman had a rosary in her hands but seemed to be preoccupied with the people more than saying her Hail Marys and Our Fathers. She could have been using the beads to lap count. As I gained on them, one of the guys said to the other, "She wants your body."

The woman with the rosary said, "No I don't." She nudged her friend. "Will you tell them I am looking for a used car with a good body."

The old guys laughed behind the old gal's backs, poked each other and the gals some more. "So, you want my body, huh?"

The rosary woman said, "Listen, all I'm interested in is a good body and equipment that works."

The old guys almost lost their dentures. I snickered and headed downstairs.

On the lower level:
Husband and wife moseying along. She came to an abrupt stop. He asked her what's wrong. She said, "I hurt."
He said, "Where do you hurt?"
Here, I have a cramp in my leg."
"Where in your leg? How bad is it? What does it feel like?"
She says, "You're giving me a pain."

I walked the three levels two times in 45 minutes. Figure if I walk three times a week, I might get my figure back and have a few chuckles along the way.